5 Kinds of Nonfiction: Active Nonfiction

This fall, Lerner published Girl Code Revolution and the Vidcode Coding Hacks series. These titles are active nonfiction, providing step-by-step instructions to create animations, filters, memes, and more, and provide an online sandbox so readers can practice what they’ve learned. Additionally, Girl Code Revolution highlights some of the amazing women coders that have existed throughout history and others that continue to influence the tech industry today.

To bring readers coding projects that were both challenging and fun, Lerner partnered with Vidcode, a coding platform specifically geared for young coders. To celebrate the launch of these new books, we invited Vidcode to share a little bit about themselves! Read on to learn more about them in their own words, as well as more about active nonfiction and its role in your book collection.

Vidcode started in 2014 with the goal of teaching tweens and teens the code behind the things they use every day. We’re a company made up of people who are driven by the goal of equity in computer science education. We believe that everyone can learn to code, and that code can be used for self-expression and creative projects. With Vidcode, anyone can use JavaScript to make memes, special effects, video filters, and other creative projects.

Vidcode started when three women, Melissa, Allie, and Leandra, met at a Hackathon in New York City with a shared passion for getting more girls into STEM fields. Each found her path to computer science through non-traditional pathways, including fine art, design, and math. They teamed up with a shared mission to build a rigorous and creative online coding platform that appeals as strongly to teen girls as it does to boys. That weekend, they built the first Vidcode prototype, and won the hackathon. From there, they built out a team of educators to turn the prototype into full-year JavaScript courses.

We were excited to partner with Lerner to publish the Vidcode Coding Hacks series and Girl Code Revolution. These books support our mission of computer science equity by bringing Vidcode’s creative coding tutorials into school libraries everywhere!

Today, Vidcode serves millions of students globally and leverages a research-backed media computation curriculum that teaches JavaScript through rigorous and visual projects such as memes, data visualizations, and augmented reality. Our goal is to teach 10 million girls to code by 2025 and we’re halfway there thanks to our incredible partners and educator community! 

While it’s possible to produce books about coding that are not project-based, the active nonfiction style really helps these books come alive and gives readers the opportunity to learn by doing, not just reading. As you can see, the short, step-by-step instructions in the Vidcode Coding Hacks books are each illustrated with a picture, and each project in this series includes a link to a sandbox where readers can follow along.

Girl Code Revolution includes step-by-step instructions for a variety of projects along with short, browseable profiles of famous women in coding.

Melissa Stewart, creator of the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction classification system, notes that kids innately “get” the purpose of active nonfiction:

I like active nonfiction because . . .

“it teaches you to do the things you want to do.” —Gina, fourth grader

“you get to do things while you read. That makes me feel calmer.” —Jack, fourth grader

These types of books – project books, cookbooks, craft books, how-to books, and more – have a place in your collection, even (maybe especially!) if you don’t have a makerspace.

Active Nonfiction is a category of Melissa Stewart’s Five Kinds of Nonfiction. This post is part of a weekly series of guest articles by nonfiction authors about their craft, their process, and their amazing books. Stay tuned each week to learn more by visiting the 5 Kinds of Nonfiction page for poster and flyer downloads, curated booklists and more. You can also follow the Lerner Blog’s 5 Kinds of Nonfiction series, or the hashtag #5KNF on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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